Live-in and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) couples are among those allowed to ride together on a motorcycle, according to a police official, last Saturday, as reported by the Philippine News Agency.
"Kung titingnan po natin, binanggit po ng NTF (National Task Force against Covid-19) na ito ay para sa married couple and others na live-in partners so in essence po, kung 'yung ating mga kasamahan sa LGBT ay magkasama sa isang bahay at sila naman po ay live-in partners kasama rin po sila doon (The NTF said this is for married couples and others who are live-in partners so, in essence, people belonging to LGBT who are living in the same house and are live-in partners are included there)," Joint Task Force Covid Shield commander, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, said in a Laging Handa briefing.
These couples need to have the backriding shield installed and must present proof that they are living in the same residence. Eleazar urged the public to cooperate with law enforcers by putting a physical barrier between the rider and the passenger and wearing face mask and helmet.
"This time, we exercise common sense as well as consideration. We talked with (Interior) Secretary Eduardo Año and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya and they said LGBT couples are included in that provision,” he said.
Eleazar said the measure is in line with the government's efforts to normalize transportation in the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. He added that all police officers were advised to exercise maximum tolerance at all times and to respect the rights of the civilians.
"Kasi nga po ang sinasabi nga ito ay dahan dahan na pagpunta natin sa pagluluwag. So initially ang mga partners muna and eventually maaari sa mga anak and eventually para sa lahat ang punta into. (We are gearing towards gradual easing of restrictions. Initially, we allowed partners. Eventually, we’ll allow parents and their children and then, everyone)," he added.
While this may seem like good news, it conflicts with other directives issued by the Palace and the PNP-HPG. Presidential spokesperson, Harry Roque, said last week that only married couples are allowed and that they must bring a photocopy of their marriage certificate. This was later corrected by the PNP-HPG, stating that a certified true copy of the marriage certificate (not just a photocopy) must be presented.
The conflicting rules continue to confuse several riders on the road who have long awaited this relenting of the rules.
"Some who were not married couples or live-in partners were given citation tickets. So far, there were no reports of violations for not wearing helmets or face masks. We will continue to monitor this in the coming days," Eleazar reported.
He added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) continues to assess policies and proposals on the measure subject to health and safety protocols.
"It will be studied, assessed by (IATF) at kung meron mang pagbabago, 'yun po ay aming ibibigay sa Joint Task Force Covid Shield para sa aming implementation. (and if there are changes, that would be given to the Joint Task Force Covid Shield for implementation)," Eleazar said. “In return, we ask the motorcycle riders to obey the rules and respect the people that enforce these rules.”
Source: Philippine News Agency
EDITOR’S NOTE: While it may be tempting to ride out based on this new development, we strongly advise our readers not to do so, until clearer guidelines are released.